Research

Research has fueled our work since the very beginning. From developing the world’s first home dialysis program to introducing revolutionary new treatments, our progress is rooted in the pioneering work of doctors and scientists.

Groundbreaking research, life-changing results

Our story begins with one piece of breakthrough research. In 1960, University of Washington physician Dr. Belding H. Scribner, who would later help found Northwest Kidney Centers, developed a way to make long-term dialysis possible for the first time. His ‘Scribner shunt’ has saved thousands of lives and inspired our ongoing commitment to improving the lives of people with kidney disease.

 

Kidney Research Institute

Together with the UW Medicine, we established the Kidney Research Institute in 2008. Made up of the region’s top investigators, the institute supports the prevention, early detection and treatment of kidney disease and its complications. Based at Harborview Medical Center and at our Haviland Pavilion in Seattle, the Kidney Research Institute uses findings from patient treatments to inform scientific investigations in the lab, and vice versa. It brings together experts in a range of disciplines including clinical medicine, pharmacology, genetics, pathology, psychology, education and physiology.

 

Research accomplishments and opportunities

2012 Kidney Research Institute: vision and accomplishments report

Kidney research opportunities for our patients

Our 10-year vision for kidney research

In its first 10 years, our Kidney Research Institute will:

  • become a world leader in clinical and translational research
  • focus on critical public health problems and larger numbers of kidney disease patients
  • explore novel discoveries that make a difference in people’s lives
  • focus on innovation and discovery
  • find therapies that increase life expectancy
  • work with teams of scientists across disciplines
  • integrate the scientific strength of UW Medicine with our clinical strengths to achieve more.

 

Director Dr. Jonathan Himmelfarb

Recognized nationally and internationally for expertise in dialysis, Dr. Himmelfarb is the director of the Kidney Research Institute. He’s made significant contributions to leading renal societies and foundations, serving as chair of the American Society of Nephrology Dialysis Advisory Group and on the board of advisors to the American Society of Nephrology.

Find out more about the Kidney Research Institute

Dr. Jonathan Himmelfarb, director of the Kidney Research Institute.

Why is kidney research so important?

Twenty-six million adult Americans have kidney disease. That’s more than one in ten. Some 400,000 of them are on dialysis. If current trends continue, there will be more than 2 million dialysis patients in the U.S. in 2030.

For those on dialysis, there is a 20 percent mortality rate per year across the U.S., an average that hasn’t changed since the 1980s. Not since 1972 has a proven new therapy been developed. Those on dialysis are hospitalized on average twice per year, and this rate has not changed over time.

For reasons we don’t fully understand, cardiovascular disease is more frequent in people with chronic kidney disease. Most chronic kidney disease patients will not need to go on dialysis, because they are more likely to die from vascular disease first. We have no proven current therapies to lower cardiovascular risk in chronic kidney disease patients.

Compared to other serious health challenges, kidney disease has had the lowest number of randomized clinical trials over the past 35 years.

Support kidney research


We’re confident these hurdles can be overcome. Your support will help us discover new and better ways to prevent, detect and treat kidney disease.

Donate to kidney research now